LINCOLN - The Alcona County Commission on Aging intends to build a new seniors center in Lincoln to replace the current one, which would cost over $1 million to outfit with handicap accessibility, new electrical work, more space, and other amenities the commission says it needs.
According to commission Director Suzan Krey, the center was built in the 1940s, dedicated as the local Veterans Memorial Hall in 1950, repurposed as a seniors center in 1978, and is now dated according to modern building codes. She said any modifications to the structure would necessitate bringing the whole building up to code, which, according to one engineer's assessment, would cost about $1.25 million.
"The first floor, where the bingo is in the main hall, is not handicap accessible. In order to make it handicap accessible, first of all, we were told by the USDA that we could put in a ramp, but we would still have to put in an elevator. Once we do anything, then we have to bring the whole building up to code. Our wiring would not support an elevator, so we would have to rewire the building," Krey said. "I don't want to put any more money into this building, because we're just throwing money down a hole."
Krey started thinking about a new building about two years ago when installing new windows called attention to other, more expensive issues with the seniors center. A market analysis indicated the building would be worth only about $160,000 even after the suggested renovations, so she met with Lincoln Village President Phil Jordan a few months later to discuss possible funding options. Jordan connected her with Downtown Development Authority, which had helped manage the funding for Lincoln's streetscape project, and they started working out logistics. In January, the ACCA board gave Krey the green light to look into building a new facility, and the project is now in an early phase of design and fundraising.
"We're far from knowing exactly where our funding is going to come from. The only thing we know is that one way or the other, something has got to be done," she said. "We don't know where the money's coming from, but the senior population of the county is growing so rapidly that we're getting more and more people that need services, and we just don't have the facility to service everyone in the county that needs it."
DK Design Group of Cadillac estimated a new building would cost about $1.75 million, and Krey thinks it would be a necessary investment for expanding services with a larger dining room and, crucially, the capacity to provide adult daycare. She said she looked to seniors centers in Ogemaw and Mt. Pleasant for inspiration, but one of the biggest challenges will be figuring out what to do with the current building, as a commercial building hasn't sold in Lincoln for years. As for when Lincoln might see a new seniors center open its doors, Krey could only guess.
"Ideally, if everything went well, 2014 would be a good time," she said. "It would be nice if we started next year, but I don't even know if that will happen."
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.